The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

The Rise of the Nones and the Christian Response

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Sunday of the Good Samaritan. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

There is nothing more foul, there is nothing more grotesque for a human person to do than to embrace atheism. The question is not do we impose morality, the question is whose morality are we imposing? Brothers and sisters, how do we respond? How'd do we respond? By this, the appearance of this very aggressive new secularism? I want to encourage you. I want to encourage you. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenem. Father Josiah is the pastor of Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of patristic nectar publications, a non profit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now, Father Josiah, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God, times are changing, brothers and sisters. Histories moving quickly. In one thousand nine hundred and fifty seven three percent of Americans. That's one in about every thirty three people self identified as having no religion. This year that number is twenty percent. That's the difference between meeting one and thirty three Americans who have no identify biable religion and meeting one in five, one third of adults in our country under the age of thirty five. That category a third, one in three young people you meet have no identifiable religion. Lots of sickness has come out of the closet, and unbelief has come out of the closet too, and unbelief is the worst of them all. Better to be an adulterer. That came out of the closet in the s when we eradicated our civil laws against adultery, and man have we paid the price for that. Better to be a killer? Better to be someone who procured or does abortions. That came out of the closet in the S. better to be gay and practicing sexual perversion. That really came out with AU Gusto in the S and attempting to dominate today. Better to be any of those things, brothers and sisters, than an unbeliever. There is nothing more foul. There's nothing more grotesque for a human person to do than to embrace atheism. The scriptures that are so careful and so cautionary about...

...calling anyone a fool. Remember our saviors teaching how much he warns us not to call people fools, except in certain cases when people are unbelievers. King David says he who as in his heart there is no god is a fool. Belief in God is the foundation of all the moral values of our country. I so you can imagine that as the unbelievers are growing in the nation, as those who self identify as having no religion and no identify Bible God goes up, so the common conviction that there are certain moral values that undergird our life in our society has been going down. It's parallel increase of atheism decline in the belief in moral values. You can't believe in eternal, eternally abiding moral values if you don't believe there is anyone or thing that eternally abides. The two are interconnected and those who lose faith, those who put aside confidence in God and morality which follows, become susceptible to the most aggressive and shocking forms of revolution. These are the qualities of history that coagulated before the great revolutions of history, before the Bulshevik Revolution, for the embraces of Nazism and fascism. These same types of movements and society were changing, and with the change of belief comes a change in law. You know, we've been hearing for a long time and competent preachers and scholars and ethicis have been warning us that all of this talk that you hear, that you heard so so unfortunately out of the mouth of Vice President Joe Biden when he was debating Paul Ryan and he was asked about his views about abortion. Do you remember this, if any of you watched it? That man is lucky. I'm not his priest. That's all I can say. He's lucky. And he said, well, I personally believe in the teaching of the Catholic Church and that life begins at conception, but I would never impose my morality on anyone. That is so old, such a worn out nonsense statement. Preachers and scholars and ethesis have been warning our nation about that kind of talk for decades. You've heard me talk about it a lot, that this kind of language, this kind of well I wouldn't want to impose my morality, as though morality isn't inherent in law, as though every law is not an expression of morals, as though imposition is escapable. The question is not do we impose morality, the question is whose morality are we imposing? Every society imposes a set of moral codes through its law structure, and you can take any society's laws, trace them to their source and you will find the God of that society. America has traditionally attempted. It's been a poor attempt compared to the Orthodox lands, I confess. America has attempted to root its law in universally accepted...

Judeo Christian values. We have a we have tried to do that. We did it a lot better in the past than we're doing it today. Orthodox nations, since the time of Emperor Constantine, when he converted and gave his heart to Jesus, he immediately sought to revise the Roman law code he had and to apply his faith to it. He tried to defend marriage and support marriage. He made it much harder for Roman men to throw their wives away. It was so easy before he became a Christian and he said No. He made the procurement of divorce difficult. He worked hard in legislation to discourage adultery. He did many things to support the position of the church, especially to defend against infanticide and the exposure of children when they were young, if they weren't wanted by their parents. Because of our love for the human person and our value of every human being in the image of God, Theodosius, who followed him about fifty years later, revived his code and made it much more radically Christian. This is the end of the fourth century. Theodosius the second and the third decade of the fifth century did it again, and then Justinian, who's most famous for his law code, in the sixth century, and that law code under girded the law code of all of the Western European states. You know, I was in Serbia a few weeks ago and I was able to venerate the tomb of one of their great emperor saints, one of their great King Saints, Dusham I. It was especially enthused because some maybe ten years ago, I stumbled upon his law code in the UC our library of no of any of all places, his beautiful law code for for Serbia and it was almost exactly Justinians, with a few all changes. Brothers and sisters, we Orthodox know that law is inescapably moral or immoral, and this language that somehow I personally believe this. I personally believe it's not good to kill children, but I'm not going to say or do anything about it because I wouldn't want to impose my morality on someone. We know that that's a feigned tolerance. That is simply a smoke screen thrown up by those who know they can't come out and tell the truth and still be in power, and it's a smoke screen that exists only long enough until the power change has been affected, and then the smoke gets blown away and we have a whole new structure. We're tasting this in a very close way right now because these this new block of Americans, they're known by the statisticians as the nuns. This twenty percent of those with no religion, the nuns, brothers and sisters, are value voters. Yes, the twenty percent of our nation that now does not identify with any religion are very clear about values. They are solidly three quarters of all of this group in our nation, three quarters believe that abortion needs to be free on demand, with absolutely no restrictions. Three quarters of this voting group believe that homosexuality is normative, just like heterosexuality is,...

...and there should be no legal impediment for persons of the same gender to get married. And they care about these things and they demand that those who represent them care about them and talk about them. That was one of the great ironies of the recent debates between our presidential candidates. President Obama, who is the most popular candidate with the new nuns, talked a lot about values and morals and imposing morality. He was as clear as day. He spoke often about abortion and how supportive of he of abortion he is. He has virtually made planned parenthood a department of State. He formally endorsed gay marriage and on the other side, Mr I can't talk about anything but money, representing suppossed Lee Traditional Christian and Judeo Christian morals, couldn't bring himself ever to even talk about them, even though they are, in the nation, so popular. These values, the pro life cause has never since the legalization of abortion, the pro life cause has never been more popular amongst Americans on the street. Marriage between a man and a woman in the preservation and protection of traditional marriage is a win win in this country. The vast majority of Americans support it, but we have no spokesman at the highest levels. Now we have value voters, but these value voters are projecting secular values, and this is something new for our nation, and the result is that those who love to claim that they have suffered prejudice so much in our nation have become the great persecutors themselves. You heard this morning in the Gospel lesson the Good Samaritan Story, this magnificent text in which the Samaritan, the one who has suffered prejudice from the Jews for being a half breed and having his religion wrong, is cared for, is cared for and our savior himself is presented as the one who will bandage up the wounds of all men. The irony is that today the man who's beaten and his bleeding in his half dead is Christ himself. He's the one who's suffering abuse, and there is no group in America that is more persecuted and more prejudice against than Christians in our nation. Some of you might have seen in the press this week that this secular insanity has come home to riverside in a very sad and sensitive way. I feel very raw about it. When I heard about it yesterday, some parishioners sent me a news clip that our city has been served with a threat of a lawsuit because of the Cross on top of Mount Rubedo and the Americans United for the separation of church and state have sent a letter to our city council saying that this must cease. I was so upset about it yesterday that I went to City Hall just hoping that our new mayor, Rusty Bailey, would be moving in, and I sat outside pounding on the door trying to get some janitor to unlock it. I called him on the telephone from outside. I said, rusty, congratulations by the way, but I'd like to talk to you about the...

...cross and I know that the city council this Tuesday is going to be taking up this subject. I just want want him to know just a few things, that we Orthodox Christians in Riverside love that cross. We consider it the greatest symbol of Riverside. We would never do anything but cry tears, buckets of tears, if it was removed. And then I said a few more things. I guess I'll tell you and our people will not stand for its removal and that if I have to chain my body to the cross, I will currier Leson. Sometimes I really feel like saying just leave us alone, just leave us alone. The pope talks about the dictatorship of relativism and we're tasting it, that's for sure. Brothers and sisters, how do we respond? How to be respond by this, the appearance of this very aggressive new secularism that won't leave us alone, and I won't leave the things we love alone, and it won't leave the name of Jesus alone. How do we respond? I want to encourage you. I want to encourage you. This is nothing unique. I read a quote from the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Chicago this week, Francis Cardinal George. He's quite a pot public figure in America. He's living in Ground Zero of secularism in Chicago, Ground Zero. Listen to what he said. He's dying of cancer. This is what he said. I expect to die in my bed. My successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild the civilization, as the Church has often done in human history. That's a nice word. I think that's a nice word, and I encourage you, brothers and sisters, as moved as we are, when we feel so touched, when we feel the threat of violation, and we see the holy things, the things that thrill us, that we kiss each other about and that we talked to our families about and we hold feasts Ober, when we see them attacked and desecrated, I encourage you not to be despairing at all. Do not be despairing. The church was fashioned at a time when we were illegal. We couldn't even build churches. Whenever we tried, our churches would be destroyed and we would be arrested, and that ended. And that ended, and all of those who opposed US became our great champions. Three centuries after that, we were on the top of the mountain. We were seeking to evangelize the world through outside, all corners of the Roman Empire, and out of the blue, without blinking an eye, a group of nomads came out of the...

Arabian peninsula and changed our lives forever. Fanatic followers of Muhammad next thing we knew, half of the Christian world was gone within thirty years and we spent the next eight centuries in a deep, deep struggle that's not even over now. The Queen of all Christian cities fell in fourteen fifty three. No Christian on the planet could imagine that the Queen of Christian cities, that city which was the beacon for eleven centuries of the Christian Empire, that that city could ever fall. Everyone wept, every Christian from every corner of the globe in May of fourteen fifty three. We struggle through that. We outlasted it. In the twenty century, out of the blue, lunatic atheists claiming that our faith was the opiate of the people and had to go, took over our most of our lands and murdered more than twenty million of our people in the greatest slaughter in the history of mankind. And we outlasted that and those days are over and on that blood soaked land today are tens of thousands of new churches and renewal and new Christians and evangelization. We've been through this before and you heard the epistle lesson. Brothers and sisters, we always carry about the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Christ can be made manifest. We are pressed, but we're not crushed. We are perplexed, but we are not despairing. We know that when we're weak we're made strong, that this gives us the context of death and of suffering and of persecution. Brothers and sisters, this is our life, this is our hour, this is our moment. It's not new to us. Yes, it will lead to the falling away of some weak believers, even in this parish. God Forbid, but I know it's true. The harder it gets to be a Christian in our society, those who only have a portion of their heart given to God will fall away, and I don't want that to be any of you here. Don't conform, don't accept this new secular worldview and try to somehow make your Christianity bow. Christ will not bow, and remember at the same time that this gives us a tremendous moment to show forth our faith. When it's dark, this is when the light shines, when there's death, Christ appears and the Cross and its power and its resurrection can be most beautifully manifest. This is our hour. We're going to open our doors and stand here with our brothers and sisters who have done this, who are doing it in worth circumstances all over the world and have done it for twenty centuries. We're going to stand with our brothers and sisters under our Patriarchs, and we are going to weather and we're going to keep joy. We're going to keep a disposition of service to everyone. We're going to love even those who are upsetting our world and we're going to invite them into the House of God. We're going to be a place of refuge for those who can't find any place that stands faithful to Christ. We are going to be that. It's already started and we're going to do that the more and we'll take every victory we can. Please be prepared for an email communication from me before Tuesday,...

...once I reach the mayor and find out if it would be helpful to have three hundred people with nice little buttons in the City Hall and the City Council Chambers. I'll let you know. We've done this before very successfully. We have taken advantage of opportunity to show our love and to what to show our city, what we're concerned about and we may have to do it again. But whatever happens, we will not despair. We will move forward and follow Christ, knowing that though we carry about in our bodies the death of the Lord Jesus, we do so so that his life can be manifested to all. Amen. You've been listening to a presentation of ancient faith radio and patristic nectar publications, the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenum. Father Josiah is the pastor of St Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Father's for more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org. Until next time,.

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